Photo above: The Nationals League president and Happy Feet Emperor owner, Kevin Chung
Quezon City, Philippines (8 March 2019) - The first franchise-based esports league in the country will kick off this month as The Nationals commences on the 24thof March. Three of the Philippines’ biggest games will be on feature in Year 1 – Dota 2 on PC, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on Mobile, and Tekken 7 on PS4.
The five inaugural teams are Bren Epro, Cignal Ultra Warriors, HF Emperors, PLDT-Smart Omega, and Suha-XCTN Punishers, and STI. The first five teams will participate in all three games spanning March all the way to October of this year with all games played at the Gariath Concepts Studio, guaranteeing an exhilarating experience to the fans watching first-hand. Meanwhile, STI will join starting June, after the Dota 2 competition.
Each of the contested games will have two conferences in the first season. Each conference will feature a double round-robin group stage and single-elimination playoffs, where winners and the top performers per conference will advance to a season finale later on in the year.
The Nationals Commissioner Ren Vitug is optimistic that the league will be able to provide a platform where talents can be nurtured. “I have witnessed many athletes gleaming with skill and potential drop out of the scene because the infrastructure was not there to support them. There are so many external factors that prevent them from being the best that they can be.”
Not only will the players be equipped with an adequate training facility, they will also be serviced by a support group vital to their development as athletes. Included in the league-mandated team personnel are managers, coaches, fitness trainers, nutritionists, and counselors, to name a few. Enforcing this on a league has never been done in the country, and the league believes that it is a necessary step for athletes to stay on top of the demanding nature of the sport, likewise conforming to international standard.
“A lot of people think that being an esports athlete is easy, but players train as long and as hard as athletes would in traditional sports”, Vitug says. “It is highly competitive, and the dynamics are usually very unstable and ever-changing.”
Being a franchise-based league, The Nationals guarantees the continued existence of teams, providing stability and continuity for the local esports calendar. Now, both athletes and teams have a more actionable goal that does not involve them going all or nothing on international events. With this in place, they can actually have long-term planning and continuity, something not yet present in Philippine esports.
Rightfully and in a timely fashion, The Games and Amusements Board (GAB) has recognized esports as an official sport last July 2017. This November, the 30th Southeast Asian Games hosted in the Philippines will feature esports as an official medal sport. All three game titles in The Nationals will be featured in the upcoming SEA Games. This guarantees to be a highlight attraction for a country with 70 million of its population being online and 47 million of those being gamers.
Big name corporations are starting to invest in esports today on a global scale, and it is not surprising considering the reach and attention it gets. For The Nationals, PayMaya is the first to jump in on the opportunity as it partners with the league to be the Official Digital Payments Partner.
Rounding up our group of pioneering partners are The Nationals Official TV broadcast partners ESPN5 through 5Plus on Free TV and Cignal TV through eGG Network and One Sports on Pay TV. Livestreaming on social media will likewise be provided by the league.